To see people gain dignity must be at the top of the gratification scale. This is what volunteers working at our Nation Changers Clothing Box get to witness daily. With unemployment comes hopelessness and loss of self-esteem. The Clothing Box is not only providing a vehicle to create economic empowerment but is also restoring the ‘Shoppers’ emotionally. As they grow in their self-esteem, we see them achieving more and envisaging a future.

A mentoring system allows each Shopper to connect regularly with a compassionate volunteer who is interested in hearing about their personal needs as well as their business success. Many of the stories and backgrounds of these people are heartbreaking, but just having a listening ear is going a long way to pour healing balm on emotional wounds. Practical help can only be offered if we know their needs. Praying together has been a great blessing for the Shoppers as well as the mentors. We’re encouraged knowing that God will make a way even when there seems to be no way.

To date, 68 people with more than 210 dependents collectively, who were living below the breadline are now empowered through the Clothing Box. A number of these Shoppers are also attending the Paradigm Shift Course which is run from CityHill Hillcrest on Monday mornings. Paradigm Shift is well known to many churches – it’s an inspiring programme, training in business as well as personal skills, with a strong emphasis on Biblical principles. The growth in those attending is delightful! Faces alight, they interact with enthusiasm.

Sam Jordt has put a highly efficient system in place which is paying off as Shoppers know to be accountable and that the rules are just and fair. Firstly, they complete an application form and go onto a waiting list for the ‘Black Bags’ which contain good-quality second-hand clothing. The applicant must be unemployed or earn a maximum of R1000 per month. Clothing donations are collected at CityHill Church, from schools and other sources. They are sorted and a mix of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, is put into each bag. The first bag is given free of charge. Thereafter, the ‘Bag Shopper’ pays R50 per bag. They’re able to sell the items for between R200 and R400. A record is kept for each Shopper and when we know that they are serious about selling the clothing to generate an income, they graduate to shopping in the Clothing Box Shop where they select clothing items. We are exceedingly grateful to Mr Price for donating their returned and end-of-range clothes with which the Clothing Box is stocked.

There are numerous stories to warm the heart, of people whose lives and the lives of their dependents have been changed as a result of the Clothing Box ….

Dolly started shopping 8 months ago because she had no income and 6 dependents. Her dream to qualify as a school teacher is now becoming a reality as she’s studying to get a BA Education through Unisa. Dolly passed well last year and has managed to fund her studies and sustain the family through the money earned selling clothing. What an example, it can be done! Despite writing exams in November, she made a profit of over 150%.

Hlengiwe is a 36-year old lady with 3 dependents, who has been a Shopper since July 2019.  She loves to sew and repair clothing, transforming them into desirable items.  She has been appointed as one of our Skills Development sewing teachers and the money she earns, she puts towards building a house of her own.  Hlengiwe is an amazing entrepreneur and has been selling handmade masks during this time of lockdown.

Margaret is an elderly lady who is riddled with arthritis. She was unable to continue as a domestic worker because of her disability and struggled endlessly to support her family. After a few months of selling the clothes, she has been able to purchase a fridge for the first time and is supporting her family. What jubilation!

Our aim is not to create dependence, with people relying on the provision of clothing to sell from the Clothing Box, but to build them up to become true entrepreneurs who start different types of businesses and in turn empower others. We’ve already seen success in that ladies who have been a part of our Skills Development group are now teaching others to sew.

Nation Changers has enough clothing from Mr Price to pass on to Zimele Centre for the Mentally and Physically Challenged in Molweni and to schools in the communities. They sell the garments at jumble sales to raise funds for their running costs and so create sustainability. All Mr Price clothing is carefully de-branded before going out, which is another job our Nation Changers volunteers do with joy.

We’re looking forward, with great anticipation, to the Above and Beyond Nation Changers Distribution facility which will enable us to upscale the Clothing Box and assist many more people as they strive to learn and be economically empowered.

None of these accomplishments, on behalf of the impoverished, would be possible without amazing volunteers who give of their time, resources and talents so liberally. Thank you all for truly being the hands and feet of Jesus!

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